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    • I have a cousin who is a dyed in the wool Democrat who fears Bernie’s past may be used against him, so it’s not like only conservatives would take issue.

      I think your dyed in the wool Democrat cousin will vote for whoever the Democratic nominee is, because the alternative is four more years of Trump. I just don’t see any party loyalists becoming “Never Sanders” and voting for Trump instead.

      If it was Romney versus Sanders, as in @Chris’s hypothetical, then I could definitely see Moderate Dems crossing over and voting Republican: Romney implemented his own version of the Affordable Care Act when he was governor of Massachusetts and he is the only Republican US Senator to admit that Climate Change is real.

    • I've always thought there was a lot to admire with him. HIs career, work in the church, his family, his success with organizing the olympics, his governorship of Mass... Smart guy, good guy.

    • I would like to think that ignorance can be overcome.

      Four years ago, Medicare for All was a crazy idea from a hippie congressman from Vermont. Today, over 50% of Americans support Medicare for All. (January 30, 2020 The Hill poll)

      Of course, like @Chris’s family members, some people will prefer M4A over socialist “Sanderscare.” 😉

      You also have a generation of Millennials with soul crushing student debt, or an inability to afford the university education or trade school required to get a decent job.

      So compared to four years ago, it’s significantly easier to sell these “socialist” ideas to the disaffected voters that @Shewmaker has talked about. These are the same voters who voted for Obama and then Trump because they hoped there would actually be real positive change in their lives and in their children and grandchildren’s lives.

      I’m not saying it would be easy and there’s obviously no guarantees. But when you look at all the other candidates, they all have plenty of baggage that can turn off swing voters: sexual orientation, racism accusations, former Republican, prosecuted innocent black individuals, East Coast Elite, a woman, age (too young or too old), progressive, in the pocket of Wall Street, etc.

      I mean, do any of the Moderate Dem candidates even come close to Obama in electability?

    • Of course, like @Chris’s family members, some people will prefer M4A over socialist “Sanderscare.” 😉

      Yep. Sanders might be better off if he just emphasized the policies themselves rather than talk about socialism in the abstract. Paul Krugman had a good observation in the NYT:

      So why does Sanders call himself a socialist? I’d say that it’s mainly
      about personal branding, with a dash of glee at shocking the
      bourgeoisie. And this self-indulgence did no harm as long as he was just
      a senator from a very liberal state.

      Krugman distinguishes social democrats from socialists, and believes that Bernie is really the former. I agree with that, but I think Krugman may not be giving enough attention to what motivates populist crowds. I mean, imagine the following call and response:

      What do we want?

      Social democracy.

      When do we want it?

      Sometime in the not too distant future if we can manage to take the senate, too.

      It's the truth but it doesn't scan, does it? Sanders does know how to get a crowd excited. Actually, I'm not at all comfortable with mobs, but if that's what it takes to win an election, I'd rather they be left wing than right.

      The whole article is here:

      I mean, do any of the Moderate Dem candidates even come close to Obama in electability?

      I think you really ought to avoid thinking in terms of electability. It's worth recalling that in 2008 a bunch of pundits wondered if the US was "ready" for a black president. I also remember when there were doubts about JFK because he was Catholic. Trump violated political norms in so many ways that it should now be obvious that conventional wisdom is merely conventional, not wisdom.

    • Yeah, Bernie's biggest problem is what you said: The perception that he's a socialist. He actually identifies as a democratic-socialist, which is different from a socialist. The problem is it still has the word "socialist" in it, which is enough to scare people away.

      However, what does bode well for Bernie is the fact that there is a good chunk of the electorate that wants radical change and he certainly offers that. Plus, he has a pretty strong base following of his own. I also think Bernie has more potential to expand his base than Trump, whose base hasn't grown and if anything shrunk a little since he took office.

    • I dunno, 6 in 10 Americans say they are better off 3 years after electing Trump, according to Gallup, and they give him credit for it. He is now tied with Obama as the most admired man, again according to Gallup. His approval has soared to 49% since his acquittal.

      Obama had similar approval for his re-election but a worse economy and a stronger opponent in Romney and still got reelected. And he didn’t have 6 in 10 people saying they felt better.

    • True, but it’s no guarantee of re-election: Bush, Sr. had about the same approval rating after three years and was a one-term president.

      In 1992, 61% said they were at least as well off as they were at the start of 1989 when President George H.W. Bush took office, compared with 38% who said they were worse off. Bush nonetheless became a one-term president and lost to Bill Clinton. (Source: above article)

      Of course, telling people “Read my lips: no new taxes”—and then violating that promise—may have been Bush’s undoing.

    • "Identifies as democratic-socialist"

      I am frequently both amused and exasperated by the idea that what a person alleges they are is what they are.

      Let's look at the word "democratic" and its usage by those who historically "identified as" democratic.

      Democratic People's Republic of Korea (only one on this list still known by this name)

      Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (and the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan)

      Democratic Government of Albania (from 1944-1946)

      People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

      German Democratic Republic

      Somali Democratic Republic

      People's Democratic Republic of Yemen

      "Identifies as" simply means "claims to be," it doesn't mean that the claim is true.

    • I'm not discussing the factuality of Bernie Sanders's claim. I'm referring to the statement made by slamdunk that including the word "democratic" shows that there is a difference. But the word "democratic" does not clarify a distinction because those who were farther left than Sanders claims to be also used it.

      Because I don't vote, I don't pay a lot of attention to the differences between (as an example) Warren and Sanders, let alone the difference between Sanders and Hugo Chavez. I don't have a bone to pick in that battle.

      I'm referring to a societal shift that has occurred recently. It used to be a maxim that calling a calf's tail a leg doesn't make a tail become a leg. But in our society today this is no longer viewed by many as legitimate.

      The left wants to persuade the right and the center to shift but the left is itself fracturing and its hard to convince others to agree with the left when the left doesn't agree among itself.

      There currently is a big battle in the Radical Feminist movement over whether a biological male who identifies as female should or should not be allowed to compete in Women's Sports. There are some Radical Feminist who claim that allowing a biological male who identifies as female to compete promotes patriarchialism.

      This would not even have been an issue among supporters of Lesbian and Homosexual rights in the 1960s, but society has shifted.

    • Social democrat has a clear political meaning, at least in European politics. Generally, it refers to the center-left, which emphasizes progressive taxation, social welfare protections, civil liberites, and labor rights, among other things. Up until recently it was the dominant ideology, though now it is being threatened by the right. Bernie's policies are fairly similar, except possibly regarding international trade--I'm not too sure of where he stands on that these days, but he used to be a protectionist, I think.

    • Bernie's policies are fairly similar, except possibly regarding international trade--I'm not too sure of where he stands on that these days, but he used to be a protectionist, I think.

      From what I’ve read, Sanders opposed NAFTA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the NAFTA replacement (USMCA), because there was no inclusion in the trade deals that (a) would require fair labor practices and protections for all signing countries and (b) would require Climate Change actions by the signing countries. As a result, NAFTA allowed US companies to move production to Mexico where the labor protections and environmental regulations were weaker.

      In the 1970s, Germany’s auto unions tried to get the UAW to increase their pay and benefit demands so that they would both benefit long-term. Instead, the UAW refused, believing they would get more of the production work as the lower labor cost provider. The UAW succeeded in the short-term, until other countries developed their infrastructure enough to become the new lower labor cost provider. China is dealing with the same issue as Vietnam and Bangladesh have started to become lower labor cost providers. IMO, most of the trade deals have been a race to the bottom, benefitting countries with the worst environmental protections and working conditions.

    • IMO, most of the trade deals have been a race to the bottom, benefitting countries with the worst environmental protections and working conditions.

      To be fair, that's the purpose of globalization and trade efficiency - to provide goods and services of equal value for the lowest cost to the consumer. So this is working exactly as people always thought it would, and it's a 'benefit to the consumer'. The fact that balance sheets don't factor in such things as employee health and pollution (which are fawned off on the state, other communities, or the open sea to take care of, for the most part) has always been a problem, IMO. For this reason I've always argued there's no such thing as an open market - open markets require transparency, and someone is always hiding something.

    • I found this Rolling Stone interview from the 2016 election in which Sanders answers the question what is “democratic socialism.”


      To address America’s economic imbalance, you’re proposing a platform of democratic socialism – what does that mean to you?

      Our goal should be a society in which all people have a decent standard of living, not a society in which a few people have incredible wealth while 47 million live in poverty. What it means to me in English is a national health care program that guarantees health care to all people. It means high-quality public education from preschool through graduate school – and one of the important points of the platform that we’re running on is to make public colleges and universities tuition-free. Anybody in this country, regardless of their income, should be able to go get a higher education.

      It means dealing with the fact that significant numbers of people in this country are paying a very large proportion of their incomes in housing. It means that if you’re gonna work 40 hours a week, you don’t live in poverty; that we raise the minimum wage to a living wage.

      Look, nobody knows the magic formula to happiness. But if you have economic security, your life is a lot better than people who are struggling every single day. And I want to create that type of economic security in America.

    • She faced a tough grilling on The View this week about African American support. Do you think she can do well when she gets out of the white voter state primaries?

    • We'll find out soon enough. You know, I have paid a fair amount of attention to the Democratic nomination process, but I can't tell you a single policy position that sets Amy apart from the rest of the pack. I'm not saying differences don't exist--surely they do--but her team better get their communications game together if she wants to win. If she's playing a last moderate standing strategy, she'll be eaten alive by Bloomberg.

    • Both Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar’s weakness is that as US Senators they don’t have to speak to angry constituents as often as a mayor does and, as a consequence, they aren’t as polished at dealing with hostile questions. Take Mayor Pete’s response during the last debate when he was asked about a black man being four times as likely to be arrested in South Bend.

      His answer was classic deflection, and did not answer the moderator’s question, however, it was extremely polished and one could even be convinced that he had provided a satisfactory answer.

      Klobuchar by contrast had a deer in the headlights look to her and couldn’t effectively communicate that

      -One of their guests on the View, Pete Buttigieg, ran a city where a black man was four times as likely as a white man to be arrested and where incarcerations of minorities had increased during his term.

      -By contrast, her team focused on ensuring that the innocents were protected and incarcerations of minorities actually went down during her time as prosecutor.

      -She called for an investigation and therefore cannot comment on an ongoing investigation, however, if there was wrongdoing by the police or one of the prosecutors then there should be consequences.

      Right now, Nevada is having early voting for their caucus. Ballots must be filled out with a first, second and third choice: you can put “uncommitted” for your second and third choices. Among Sanders supporters, there is talk of putting Klobuchar as the second choice in order to reduce the SDEs for Biden and Butttigieg: Klobuchar could become the equivalent of American Idol’s Sanjay, making it harder for a moderate Dem to stand out from a still crowded field.

    • Having lived in Minnesota (St. Paul and Minneapolis), I can say that there is a pretty strong African-American population there. As well as a strong Somali, Latino, and Hmong population. Minnesota is a pretty diverse place.

      Klobuchar should absolutely play this angle more and let people know she's well liked in a state with a lot of diversity. I think that's how she should address this.

    • Most of the politicians who propose legislation for health care have no idea how the system actually works or what's needed for the patients to deliver healthy outcomes. Too many career politicians and lawyers driving policy... not enough Engineers, Scientists, Doctors and rational business men and women who speak facts, understand P&Ls with realistic plans.

      What drives the 2x per capita cost?

      Thought you’d find this interesting on the “rebate” that your insurance company receives from the pharmaceutical companies after you pay full price.

      Pharmacy benefit managers negotiate with drug manufacturers on behalf of insurers. Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, says pharmacy benefit managers are behind the increasingly high drug prices.

      For example, of a $400 insulin prescription, the manufacturer ends up with just $88, and the pharmacy benefit manager requires the manufacturer to give it a 65% rebate price. Instead of allowing the patient to benefit from that rebate, the insurance benefit manager splits that money with the insurance company and “keeps the rest,” according to Ray.

      “The consumer pays the full price, plus a few extra wholesale fees and transfer fees, so the consumer ends up paying $408 for a prescription that the manufacturer’s only making $88 on but the (pharmacy benefit manager) is keeping the majority of the money,” Ray said Monday during a news conference announcing SB272.

    • I somehow have befriended Dr. Berman, who opened the Berman Skin Institute near Stanford hospital maybe 25 years ago. I was one of his first patients, for a rash, and have been back every year since.

      Last week he gave me a tour of his gleaming and expansive new clinic, one of 11 Berman institutes in the Bay Area. He said he had to expand because at low volume, the insurance companies make 3 dollars for every dollar he makes from patient visits. He said you have to get to scale to increase your negotiating power with insurance companies.

      I only know around 6 doctors, but they all say it’s the insurance companies who make all the money and drive up the cost of health care in America. No one who sees patients makes anything close to what insurance execs make. And their business model is frequently to deny care.

    • I have been mentally preparing for another four years of Trump. As much as I like Amy, she is not exciting enough to beat Trump, I don’t think. Trump has a massive operation, a huge amount of cash, and the highest popularity among Republicans ever.

      Further, as even the Europeans admit, world momentum is favoring Trumpism.

    • I only know around 6 doctors, but they all say it’s the insurance companies who make all the money and drive up the cost of health care in America. No one who sees patients makes anything close to what insurance execs make. And their business model is frequently to deny care.

      I remember my dad saying that when he had his own practice (Orthopedics) his upfront malpractice insurance cost was $80,000 per year. That was probably a decade ago, I wonder what it would be now. He sold his practice to the hospital he did surgery in, easier to deal with reimbursement (insurance) and malpractice coverage (insurance).